Game Time: Sifting Through Mark McGwire's Bullshit

At this point, using the word "courageous" to define any of the performance-enhancing drug users of baseball's Steroid Era that "come clean" about their transgressions is a bit disingenuous. "Courageous" would be their giving back all of the money that steroids helped them make. So if you're looking for someone to pat Mark McGwire on the back for his crocodile tears yesterday with Bob Costas, his hand-picked slow-pitch softball pitcher, you will not find it here.

Honestly, at this point I don't even really care that all of these guys were jacked full of foreign substances ranging from HGH to female fertility drugs. What does offend me is that they are being lauded by some for apologies that continue to perpetuate lies about why they took the drugs. McGwire, like Andy Pettitte before him, used injuries as his crutch, blaming guilt for time spent on the disabled list and the inherent pressures of the "steroid era" in which he was cursed to play -- an era which was also cursed with eight-figure salaries, but I digress.

McGwire sat down with Bob Costas, and if it's okay with all of you, I'd like to dust off my Bullshit-o-meter and apply it to some of the highlights. The Bullshit-o-meter ranges from 1 (anything said by Abraham Lincoln) to 10 ("I did not have relations with that woman"). Here we go...

"As far as using [PED's] on a consistent basis, the winter of 93/94. I did it on health purposes. If you look at my career in 93, 94, 95, 96, I was a walking MASH unit."

BULLSHIT-O-METER SCORE: 9.2
McGwire also makes mention earlier in the interview that he tried it for the first time in 1989, validating some of what Jose Canseco alluded to in his book. I have a hard time believing that a guy whose entire makeup was centered around sheer power dabbled for a few weeks in 1989, and then decided four years later he needed steroids merely to "feel better."

It's worth mentioning that in the midst of McGwire's steroid-aided uber-romp to Pantheon Level Power Hitter status (from 1995 through 1999, Big Mac averaged 57 home runs per season), baseball also saw its first $10 million-per-year player (Albert Belle in 1997). Also, the highest-paid players in each league from 1991 through 1998 looked like this:

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast